Skip to main content

October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month and Youth Substance Use and Use Disorder Prevention Month

October 23, 2017

In recent years, Alaska has seen an increase in substance abuse among both adults and adolescents. October’s National Substance Abuse Prevention Month raises awareness of how our state can reduce and prevent substance use and abuse.

Healthy Alaskans 2020, a joint project of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, works with local and statewide partners to raise awareness and prevention around important health issues across the state by tracking selected health indicators.

Two HA2020 Leading Health Indicators relate to reducing the alcohol-induced mortality rates and reduce the percentage of adults and adolescents who report binge drinking in the past 30 days. The HA2020 Targets are to:

  • Reduce the alcohol-induced mortality rate to 15.3 per 100,000 population
  • Reduce the percentage of adults (18 years and older) who binge drink to 20 percent
  • Reduce the percentage of adolescents (students in grades 9-12) who binge drink to 17 percent

2015 data indicates that the HA2020 target for reducing alcohol-induced mortality rates are not on track for Alaskans overall. Alcohol-induced death rates among Alaska Native people (71.4) are three and a half times higher than the state’s general population (20.4). While alcohol-related deaths are not on track, the percentages of binge drinking among all specified age groups among all Alaskans have met their targets.


What can you do to help curb substance abuse?

  • Learn the warning signs of potential drug abuse
    • Problems at school or work — Frequently missing school or work, a sudden disinterest in school activities or work, or a drop in grades or work performance
    • Physical health issues — Lack of energy and motivation
    • Neglected appearance — Lack of interest in clothing, grooming or looks
    • Changes in behavior — Exaggerated efforts to bar family members from entering his or her room or being secretive about where he or she goes with friends; or drastic changes in behavior and in relationships with family and friends
    • Spending money — Sudden requests for money without a reasonable explanation; or your discovery that money is missing or has been stolen or that items have disappeared from your home, indicating maybe they’re being sold to support drug use
    • For a list of additional signs and symptoms of drug use or intoxication by drug type, click here.


  • Prevent misuse of prescription drugs
    • Many who become addicted or are addicted to prescription medications (especially opioids) may take medications from other’s homes. Be sure to store your opioids and other addictive medications in a safe place or dispose of them properly if no longer needed. Medications can be disposed through drug takeback programs or can be disposed of using a drug deactivation disposal bag. For more information, click here. Learn more about protecting your family from poisoning risks of drugs and alcohol in this public service announcement from ANTHC: ANTHC PSA on Medication & Alcohol Safety.


  • Participate in Awareness Activities and Trainings:
    • Red Ribbon Week: October 23-31

The National Family Partnership promotes Red Ribbon Week as a way to support drug prevention, education and advocacy efforts to ensure our youth grow up to be drug free. This year’s theme is Your Future is Key, So Stay Drug Free. Youth can participate in the Red Ribbon Photo Contest to win an iPad and $1,000 for their school. For more information about the contest click here. Additional Red Ribbon information and media resources can be found here.


  • National Prescription Drug Take Back Day: October 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications. For a list of drop off locations click here. Check with your pharmacy to see if they provide year-round services to dispose unwanted, unused or expired medication(s).


  • iknowmine Initiative

iknowmine is an ANTHC program to help support Alaska Native youth and Alaskan youth to live healthy lives. Varieties of topics are covered, including safe medication disposal and deactivation supplies for providers to order. For more information click here.


  • Substance Abuse Prevention Skills Training (SAPST)

The State of Alaska’s Division of Behavioral Health and SAMHSA’s Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies (CAPT) have partnered to offer the Substance Abuse Prevention Skills Training (SAPST). This innovative training offers practitioners a comprehensive introduction to the substance abuse prevention field. The SAPST is designed to help practitioners develop the knowledge and skills needed to implement effective, data-driven prevention that reduces behavioral health disparities and improves wellness. It is appropriate for entry-level prevention professionals, as well as professionals working in related fields. For more information click here.

For more detailed trend data on individual indicators, go to Visit the HA2020 website to learn more about the Healthy Alaskans Initiative, each of the Leading Health Indicators and what strategies are currently in place to help reduce alcohol-induced mortality and binge drinking among Alaskans.

Share this story

Sign Up For Our Newsletter